As told to Richard Holt
The past year has been a huge challenge for everyone. We had no idea our lives were going to be turned upside down. It was difficult to shut our doors for three months over the lockdown, but like the rest of the world, we had to get through it, and we made sure we stayed healthy and happy and ready to get back to the work we love. Thankfully, we were able to draw on more than half a century of experience that David M Robinson (DMR) has in getting to know our clients. Because while nobody expected the pandemic, building relationships with clients is all about listening and adapting, no matter what life throws at you.
DMR has showrooms in Liverpool, Manchester and Altrincham, as well as the branch that I manage in London’s Canary Wharf. We employ more goldsmiths than any retailer in the north of England, but this sizeable business grew from very humble beginnings. David Michael Robinson was an up-and-coming young goldsmith in 1969 when he opened a modest shop in Liverpool. He won two De Beers Diamonds International Awards and made jewellery that was presented by the Queen at Ascot. He also recognised the need for personal service. David still runs the business along with his son John, our managing director. The company may have grown a great deal, but it is still very much a family business, and the way we interact with clients is at the core of everything we do.
Buying a luxury watch or a piece of jewellery is an emotional purchase. It is something people buy not because they need it, but because they are celebrating an important occasion, or giving a gift to somebody they love. We make our own exclusive line of jewellery and stock a very select range of luxury watches, including Rolex. I have been selling Rolex for more than 30 years, and between us in the Canary Wharf showroom, we have more than 100 years’ experience selling the brand. The watches are well loved for a reason Rolex may be a big company, but the attention to detail they put into making each single watch a perfect creation is truly impressive.
While the level of quality speaks for itself, Rolex doesn’t just let the watches do the talking. It ensures that retailers are always up to speed with the history of Rolex, its latest models and technological developments. It knows that retailers are the face of the brand, and because clients are so well informed, it is vital that we know our stuff.
Just as Rolex is adept at winning clients for life with its watches and business approach, at DMR we aim to keep clients for life with our service. Ordinarily, that would involve face-to face meetings. Canary Wharf is surrounded by offices and with more people working from home, footfall is down. But during lockdown, we were ready to carry on, whatever it took.
Video links have become vital for families to stay in touch. Online communication is such an important tool for us too at DMR. While it is never quite the same as being in the same room as someone, it has been a great way to keep up with clients and show them watches and jewellery in the comfort of their own homes. And some clients love the convenience.
We are glad to welcome clients to the showroom on an appointment basis and, of course, we take meticulous care with cleaning and social distancing to make sure everything is done to keep our clients and staff Covid safe. This presents some novel challenges. A face mask makes it is very hard for a client to tell when you are smiling, for example, so hand gestures and body language become more important. But this is a natural progression for us – being sympathetic to clients is about adapting to whatever situation presents itself, and we have really enjoyed the challenges of making them happy at a time when life has not been easy.
So we never lose sight of the fact that buying a new watch is an emotional purchase. We understand and embrace the important time you might want to spend on finding out about a timepiece that takes your heart, that not only looks the part, and feels wonderful to wear, but you can be confident is a distillation of years and years of expert innovation and design decisions with heritage. As the festive season approaches, this year it seems even more important to give gifts of love, particularly in the form of precious watches to treasure and enjoy. Rolex creates great families of watches with remarkable character and has a timepiece for every member of your family – even your fortunate friends. Treat them, and treat yourself. Now is the time to buy that Rolex watch you’ve always coveted. You know you want to. Here are our Rolex picks.
Sandy says: ‘Rolex has played around with colours in the past. But a full suite of new colours in one launch really is a treat. The new Oyster Perpetuals have brought a younger clientele to Rolex and they are very reasonably priced considering the quality of the product.’ For the new collection, the Rolex Oyster has welcomed a larger 41mm case size with the Oyster Perpetual 41, as well as new colours such as dials in green, coral red, candy pink, yellow and turquoise available on the 31, 36 and 41mm models. It is also available with a silver sunray dial, not seen on an Oyster Perpetual since the 1960s. The new generation model has a Chromalight display – the hands and hour markers are filled with luminous material that gives out a longlasting blue glow in low-light conditions. The Oyster Perpetual 41 and the new versions of the Oyster Perpetual 36 are equipped with Rolex’s new calibre 3230. Smaller models in the range, which now start at 28mm, carry the 2232 movement. Like all Rolex watches, all Oyster Perpetuals carry the Superlative Chronometer certification, ensuring excellent performance of +/- 2 seconds per day and backed up with Rolex’s international five-year guarantee. The 2232 has a power reserve of approximately 55 hours, while the 3230 has a power reserve of approximately 70 hours. The case and bracelet come in Oystersteel, which was first introduced in the 1930s. The Oyster Perpetual is waterproof to 100 metres and fitted with a folding Oysterclasp and Easylink comfort extension link to easily increase the size by approximately 5mm.
THE CELLINI DUAL TIME
Sandy says: ‘Rolex is, of course, best known for its professional watches, but its Cellini collection is all about refi nement and fi nesse. The collection has its own distinctive and special aesthetic – it’s suave and super sophisticated.’ The Cellini range represents classic elegance for contemporary times. The name is inspired by the Italian renaissance artist Benvenuto Cellini, the goldsmith and sculptor, and the collection certainly demonstrates refinement in the art of watchmaking. The Cellini Dual Time is a handsome, harmonious timekeeper with tech credentials featuring a self-winding mechanical movement. It shows home time with a second time zone in the sub-dial, which differentiates day and night time with decorative sun and moon symbols. The hour hand can be independently set to the local time zone in a series of ‘jumps’ that do not disturb the functioning or precision of the Rolex Superlative Chronometer movement. With a round 39mm case created from 18ct gold made in the Rolex foundry, the timepiece has a double bezel, one domed, the other delicately fluted, an emblematic Rolex feature, while the dial features a striking sunray guilloché motif, a classic design called ‘rayon flamé de la gloire’. Everose, Rolex’s proprietary rose gold, developed to ensure the quality of alloy and non-fading colour, is used to great effect in this timepiece and its subtle, gentle, hue pleasingly complements the distinctive brown dial.
Sandy says: ‘The Datejust is another big seller. Due to steadily increasing demand you can expect to wait a few months for one of these. Both the Datejust 31 and the Datejust 41, seen on this page, are sublime pieces.’ Rolex has unveiled four new white Rolesor versions (combining Oystersteel and 18ct white gold) of the 31mm-cased Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31. One has a bezel set with 46 brilliant-cut diamonds, an aubergine sunrayfinish dial that is adorned with a diamond-set Roman VI. The other versions have sunray-finish dial in either mint-green, white lacquer dial, or dark-grey, along with a fluted bezel in 18ct white gold. The hands and index hour markers on all four watches are in 18ct white gold. The Datejust 31 is fitted with Rolex’s Calibre 2236 automatic movement with paramagnetic silicon Syloxi hairspring that, as well as being unaffected by magnetism, is also 10 times more shockresistant than a traditional hairspring. Shockresistance is further increased by the use of Rolex’s patented Paraflex shock absorbers – in turn, they increase resistance by at least 50 per cent. With a paramagnetic nickel-phosphorus escape wheel, the movement has a power reserve of approximately 55 hours and is waterproof to 100 metres. The Datejust was first launched in 1945, but the cyclops lens wasn’t added until 1953. The Jubilee bracelet, with its classic five-piece links, was developed for the Datejust the year it was launched. As well as the new Rolesor versions, and various diamond bezel option, the Datejust 31 is also available in its simplest form with a Oystersteel bezel, Oystersteel case and Oyster bracelet.
A standout new version of the Datejust is the 41mm version with Oystersteel and 18ct yellow gold. This combination of metals, called Rolesor, has featured on Rolex models since the early 1930s. The Rolesor Datejust is also available with Rolex’s distinctive fluted bezel. The bezel was originally functional, used to screw the bezel onto the case to help ensure waterproof. That is why it was identical to the fluting on the caseback, which was screwed in using special Rolex tools. The bezel, exclusively in 18ct gold, became a Rolex signature and features on Datejust as well as other models. The Jubilee bracelet made especially for the 1945 launch of the Datejust. It is also available on an Oyster bracelet. The champagne dial has a sunray finish, achieved by electroplating with more than half a dozen different metals. This 41mm model is equipped with the new generation calibre 3235 movement with bi-directional selfwinding via Perpetual rotor, paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, and Paraflex shock absorbers. Instantaneous date with rapid setting and stop-seconds for precise time setting. The movement, entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex, is certified as a chronometer by COSC, then tested a second time by Rolex after being cased to ensure that it meets Rolex’s criteria for precision – twice as difficult to meet as those for an officially certified chronometer. It has a power reserve of approximately 70 hours and is waterproof to 100 metres.
Sandy says: ‘I have always been a fan of the Submariner, and the newest one is fantastic. The case is larger, but with the remodelled bracelet it sits perfectly on the wrist.’ The Submariner, launched in 1953, was the first diving watch to be waterproof to 100 metres. Over the years, the Submariner has evolved and, for 2020, features a redesigned slightly larger 41mm case. It has a unidirectional rotating bezel, featuring a scratch-resistant Cerachrom insert with 60-minute graduations to allow a diver to accurately and safely monitor diving time and decompression stops. The case is available in either Oystersteel, Oystersteel and 18ct yellow gold, or 18ct white gold, with matching Oyster bracelet. The bezel insert comes in black but is also available in blue in the white-gold version, and green in the Oystersteel-cased Submariner Date model. The bracelet, designed to combine comfort and strength, is equipped with an Oysterlock clasp to prevent accidental opening, and Rolex’s Glidelock system, which allows for fine expansions of the bracelet. The Submariner has Rolex’s new calibre 3230 automatic movement, while the Submariner Date has the new 3235 automatic movement, both certified as superlative chronometers by COSC, and featuring high-efficiency Chronergy escapement, Rolex’s anti-magnetic Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers. The movements are accurate to -2/+2 seconds a day (after casing) and have a power reserve of approximately 70 hours. All new Submariners are waterproof to 300 metres.
OYSTER PERPETUAL DAY-DATE
Sandy says: ‘For me the Day-Date really is the pinnacle. If you buy a watch to celebrate an important milestone in your life, it doesn’t get any better than a Rolex President, which has so much history behind it, having been worn by countless stars as well as presidents.’ While its official name is the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date, most people refer to this classic of the Rolex range as either a Day-Date or the President. Almost as well-known a feature as the watch itself, the President bracelet, with its three semi-circular links, is either solid 18ct gold or platinum, and has been a distinctive part of the Day-Date since the watch was launched back in 1956. The watch has been carefully evolved over the years, and more recent improvements include deftly hidden ceramic inserts in the bracelet links to increase flexibility. The Day-Date carries the new-generation 3255 automatic movement with Chronergy escapement. The Calibre 3255 – in house, like all Rolex movements – is a new-generation calibre that features the efficient Chronergy escapement and Parachrom hairspring. The power reserve is a more-thanadequate 70 hours and it is waterproof to 100 metres. When the Day-Date was launched it was the first watch to show a full day of the week as well as the date. While the watch has been given technical upgrades, this function remains the key feature of these watches, with the day and date at 12 and 3 o’clock respectively updating instantly as the time hits midnight. It is available in two case sizes, 36mm or 40mm, either in 18ct gold (yellow, Everose or white) or 950 platinum.